This journey was nearly 4 billion miles — and took 10 years

And you think your commute is bad. On November 12, 2014, the Philae probe finally landed on a comet some 10 years after it left Earth. Fred Jansen, who manages the mission for the European Space Agency, remembers some of the key moments that led up to the landing.

Very few people actually work on a long mission from “cradle to grave.” Instead, the project is split into phases, and everyone has their own ramp-up and activity period. That has its own implications. For instance, the people who build the instruments might be experienced engineers in their 40s or 50s. They might not be around to operate them 15 or 20 years after that. So for that reason, to preserve knowledge, we video everyone presenting what they did and why they did it. They give detailed presentations, speaking for five or ten minutes on how the instrument works, why they build it that…

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